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Card Cracking: Don’t Fall for This Trending Social Media Scam

One of the cardinal rules of protecting yourself from financial fraud is to neverever give out your financial account information (or any personal information) to strangers. In one of the fastest growing forms of financial fraud, though, that's exactly what fraudsters are asking for — and what victims are willingly handing over.

Close up of hands holding a mobile phone.

Here's what you need to know about card cracking, a quickly-growing, social media-based banking scam.

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What is card cracking?

Card cracking (also known as "card-popping") is a form of fraud in which, most commonly, fraudsters request access to a social media user's debit card number and their online bank account log-in information, in exchange for payment. Victims are led to believe that the fraudster will deposit bad checks or run up charges, and that he or she (the victim) can simply claim the card was lost or stolen so that it's a "win-win" situation.

Except, it's not.

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According to The Payments Review, "Often the victim has very little money in their account and falsely believes that they don’t have much to lose. The fraudster approaches the prey, offering a payment, or a 'cut' of checks to be laundered through the debit account. The account holder provides access to their account as well as the physical card. Once the card-cracker has access to the account, they deposit multiple bad checks – usually remotely – and then make quick ATM withdrawals. The goal is to get the cash in hand before the bank figures out the checks are phony. The account holder is also at risk of having their own money stolen from their accounts and having unauthorized purchases made with their debit cards."

While many victims come to realize they've been scammed upon (or before) calling to report their cards lost or stolen, many don't realize that, when the financial institution  reimburses them for the stolen funds, they've helped to facilitate a bank fraud scheme — they are a criminal accomplice.

What can you do to avoid falling victim to card cracking fraud and to help prevent the spread of it?

Here are some tips from The Payments Review:

  • Don't believe everything you see online. If you see an offer on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or another social media platform that state you can receive quick money in exchange for giving up information about your credit or debit cards, or other financial accounts, are too good to be true.
  • NEVER give out your personal account information online. Remember that your bank or credit union will never ask for your account information via social media or email, so contact them immediately if what you've seen or received appears to have come from them. Additionally, never provide this information to anyone on any online platform, regardless of what kinds of promises they might make.
  • Remember that you'll face more than lost funds if you take part. Participating in any such activity (even as the victim) is a crime. If you take part, you'll be considered a conspirator to bank fraud, which can be punishable with up to 30 years in prison. 
  • Report suspicious activity. If you come across ads, stories, messages, or other social media posts related to card cracking, report them directly to the social media site at hand via their help centers.

What other kinds of fraud should you be on the lookout for, and how can you protect yourself and your family? To learn more about common forms of fraud, how to protect your identity and accounts, and what actions you should take if you believe you've fallen victim, visit our Fraud Protection Page.

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